McCabe & Mrs. Miller
Directed by Robert Altman
A gambler and a prostitute become business partners in a remote Old West mining town, and their enterprise thrives until a large corporation arrives on the scene.
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★★★★★ review by davidehrlich on Letterboxd
the house always wins, of course, the trouble is that you don't own it anymore by the time it does.
one of the best, most lucidly despairing movies ever made. not to downplay its inquiry into the cold heart of capitalism, but this would make for a great opiate triple feature alongside House of Pleasures and The Flowers of Shanghai, in case you want to drown in orange and not move for 8 hours (and who wouldn't?).
i watched it by the flickering light of a fire on christmas eve and achieved such nirvana that i saw the face of santa, himself. i suggest you try it, sometime. incidentally, leonard cohen makes for great christmas morning music.
★★★★½ review by Mike D'Angelo on Letterboxd
Third viewing, but a more general assessment will have to wait for round four, because I'm writing this less than a week after Leonard Cohen died and Trump was elected. Which means that all I can think about right now are (a) "The Stranger Song" accompanying wintry shots of horseback riders, and (b) McCabe listening, petrified, as his attorney confidently outlines the legal mechanisms that ostensibly protect him, and explains why absolute trust in those mechanisms is well justified.
"Now you take that there company, Harrison & Shaughnessy. They have stockholders. Do you think they want their stockholders, and the public, thinking that their management isn't imbued with all the principles of fair play and justice? The very values that make this country what it is today? Bustin' up these trusts and monopolies is at the very root of the problem of creating a just society. Dammit, McCabe, I'm here to tell you that this free enterprise system of ours works. And working within it, we can protect the small businessman and the big businessman."
"Well, I just didn't, uh...didn't want to get killed."
May we have a happier ending.
★★★★ review by SilentDawn on Letterboxd
McCabe & Mrs. Miller, right from the chilly opening, is a detached and aching odyssey into ambition and transactions. Never have negotiations and subsequent character shifts looked so gorgeously alive and lived-in. It's a film that is drenched and buried within varied amounts of rain, mud, and snow, and the only shelter lies in the orange hues of saloons and crammed hotels. Before viewing, I read that it was a dismantling of the Western genre, but as always, Altman subverts expectations in profoundly delightful fashion.
It's as if Altman wanted to craft a sorrowful poem for all these settlers and gamblers and prostitutes and gunfighters, and even if it's too late, sometimes it's worth trying anyway. Not an ode to the West, but an ode to the travelers who are trying to find what was promised. Certainly a film that I will appreciate more and more with every rewatch.
★★★★★ review by Milez Das on Letterboxd
A cold breeze passes through, a man with his two horses stop by a little town, he mumbles to himself and enters the nearby diner. He captures everyones attention as he starts a table and dealing cards.
Soon with his charms and dominant position and the rumor that he is John McCabe who has shot some wannabe governor. He establishes a gambling and a brothel with Mrs. Miller who runs the brothel as she knows the ways around it. They soon become successful and start to have feeling for each other...And this is what I loved most about McCabe and Millers relationship is that they both just don't admit the feeling they have for each other...It is like a weakness to them, like showing they are vulnerable.
McCabe gets an offer to sell his shares of the town to a big mining company but he refuses every price they offer him. And this meeting turns into something McCabe is not ready for and soon we see what he really his. It becomes the race for survival as it every man for himself.
The beauty of this movie is that it takes a well adjusted time to set everything up and this is what I love. The slow burn that makes you enter the dimension of Cinema. The cinematography which resonates every frame and the shot of McCabe from the top of the church or the scene at the start where McCabe is bringing the girls and a man is putting the cross on the church is so beautiful and kind of dreamy.
We have Leonard Cohen's beautiful songs in the background which makes it just a whole package. And the final sequence where the whole town is trying to stop the fire in the church and we are just in this state of our hearts slowly racing between the chase between McCabe and those bounty hunters. The editing of this movie is at its best. The conversations which become part of the background itself or the use of songs and sometimes getting close to the characters.
Warren Beatty as McCabe has this presence to his character who is very at times difficult to read and analyze. Over the time we get to see what he is and I think Beatty's performance here was sublime.
Julie Christie as Mrs.Miller is just a dream...She is the beauty the big screen deserves and the film roll that shots her.
This was my first Robert Altman and I got to say I am in love with his filmmaking process and how he displays the story.
McCabe and Mrs.Miller is beauty, it takes you back into time and flawlessly just becomes one of the best films you will ever see in your life.
I Gotta order the Criterion of this one now.
★★★★ review by Brendan Michaels on Letterboxd
McCabe & Mrs. Miller isn't your typical Western. It's a dark and gritty take on Westerns, well more like Pacific Northwestern for this film. There are no honorable kills in this, not at all. There are no rules here and that makes this world even more dangerous. The only thing you got in this world that Robert Altman, Brian McKay, and Edmund Naughton created is just yourself. Don't expect anyone to give a damn and help you.
Like most Altman films it's a slow burn but once you get into it you're in for the long run and you won't want to stop. My favorite scene is when McCabe enters the church and climbs up to see where his attackers are. He leaves his shotgun at the end of the latter. When he comes down the pastor has his shotgun. McCabe asks for it back and he refuses, aiming it at McCabe and telling him to get out. The scene shows the hypocrisy of the church. They say love another and help your neigh I but when the times get tough don't expect them to return the favor.
Julie Christie gets a lot of praise for her role as Mrs. Miller, as she should, but Warren Beatty should get the same amount. I loved watch him play McCabe. Such an entertaining character all the way through! I love all the moments both McCabe and Mrs. Miller would share. Altman makes these scenes seem so easy to make.
McCabe & Mrs. Miller is The Hateful Eight before there ever was a Hateful Eight. Definitely Altman's best film so far and a great western for how it changes the formula of it. Definitely watch McCabe & Mrs. Miller ASAP.
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